Monday, December 13, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Movie Review

ll 1/4

Starring Georgie Hendley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes and Will Poulter.
Directed by Michael Apted.

When I came out of it, I had it in my mind about on par with Prince Caspian, but as the days pass, it's receded on me. The Narnia film series isn't up to LOTR or Harry Potter standards, much as it may like to be, and this film is the weakest in the Narnia series to date, even though in my opinion it's one of the better books in the series.

Part of the problem is source material. CS Lewis was writing fiction for kids with strong Christian overtones, and his "for kids" style doesn't carry over as easily as Tolkein or Rowling. Dawn Treader on the big screen is rather episodic. There's also no clear villain. The antagonist is this green mist of evil. Not exactly as powerful as the White Witch. Tilda Swinton, who's always been by far the best actor in the series, comes back again for a cameo. The filmmakers also find a way to bring back Peter and Susan, even though they're not supposed to be here.

The acting is a problem. Georgie Hendley had a lot of charm as Lucy in the first movie, but her wide-eyed grinning at whatever magical incident is happening hasn't really progressed. For instance, I've always felt like in the Potter flicks, the acting of the kids has improved a little with each movie. Here, not really.

This movie's best quality is from casting Will Poulter as Eustace Scrubb, the spoiled cousin that joins Edmund and Lucy on this trip. At least when he's around, we have the promise that something lively may happen.

So if Narnia 4 gets greenlit - The Silver Chair - it only brings back Eustace, and that film should be in good hands, though I can't for the lfie of me remember anything about The Silver Chair and I read the whole series about five years ago. Maybe Walden Media can get Alfonso Cuaron or Mike Newell or David Yates to give a crack at directing it and see if they can't stop the slide of this series. I'd enjoy it if all seven could be made.

P.S. I was distracted the whole movie that Reepicheep was back, but not as voiced by Eddie Izzard. I could not figure it out until the closing credits. Well, it was Simon Pegg. Liam Neeson does return to voice Aslan, and if you haven't guessed that Aslan is Jesus, he lays a biiig hint at the end.

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